By Jim Hintelmann
RUMSON – “I knew it was going in,” said Holmdel senior Christian Vikse after his corner three-pointer at the buzzer hit nothing but net to give the Hornets a stunning 58-57 A Central Division win over Rumson-Fair Haven Regional Tuesday.
“I was ecstatic,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. It started out as confusion, but my point guard Rob Cantelli knew what he was doing and he found me. I was supposed to be there.”
Rumson, leading most of the game, seemed to have the game wrapped up with 50 seconds left when Jack Curran dropped in two foul shots to give Rumson a 56-50 lead.
Holmdel’s Kyle Nodes, though, drilled a trey with 22 seconds left to make it a three-point game, but Drew Corsi was fouled on the inbounds pass and made one of two to provide Rumson with what looked like a safe 57-53 advantage.
Cantelli, however, drove up court and went in for a lay up with 10 seconds left to keep Holmdel’s hopes alive.
Curran was fouled with six seconds remaining, but he missed both giving Holmdel a chance to win it. Cantelli got the ball past midcourt into the right corner and found Vikse open on the opposite side, and his shot went in to win it.
“The most important thing was that we were down two and not three,” said Holmdel coach Sean Devaney. “Cantelli had the option of going to the basket but, if they collapsed on him, he had Vikse spotted up and he made the right decision.”
The first half was evenly played with Holmdel getting its last lead at 25-24, on Cantelli’s lay up , but Rumson went ahead at the half, 30-26.
The Bulldogs pulled further ahead in the third quarter and appeared to have the game in hand when they extended their lead to 45-32 with 2:20 remaining in the quarter on a lay up and three-point play by Donnelly.
Holmdel, though, slowly got back in the game when Rumson missed 9 of 14 free throws in the final quarter, and that set up the wild finish.
“Obviously it was very hard to stop Donnelly,” said Devaney. “We were looking to really try to work Donnelly and Corsi as much as possible to keep their points down.”
Both teams had problems on the foul line with Holmdel converting only 13 of 30 from the line while Rumson went 20 for 29.
“It was disappointing how many foul shots we missed,” admitted Devaney. “It’s a hard way to play and could be our Achilles heel all year, but our effort was there and we got lucky tonight.”
The win put Holmdel in sole possession of first place in the division at 3-0 with a big game coming up Thursday against defending champion Raritan.
Rumson’s division hopes took a setback with its loss droping it to 0-2 in the division.